New details of a police raid that located 23 guns and thousands of cannabis plants were revealed in court documents as landowners fought organized crime investigators over continued detention of seized items.
The searches and seizures took place in June and August of 2019 in Langley and Surrey, and included a Langley warehouse, a home and farm property in South Langley, a home in Langley’s Glen Valley area, and a Surrey home.
The primary target appears to have been a farm and home in the 500 block of 224th Street.
On June 18, 2019, members of the Federal Serious Organized Crime (FSOC) unit searched the farm property along with a warehouse in North Langley’s industrial area, the Glen Valley home, and the Surrey home.
At the farm, they found 5,300 cannabis plans, more than 2,400 pounds of dried cannabis, and 20 guns, none of them lawfully secured, according to the affidavit of an RCMP corporal.
At the time of the raids, FSOC alleged that the site had a medical cannabis growing license for just 300 plants.
On Aug. 27, a new warrant for a specific house on the farm property resulted in a search that located three more firearms.
After the initial raids, police had only announced the discovery of 12 firearms.
It’s not clear from court documents whether the firearms were legally registered, or what type of guns they were.
The raids were apparently part of a investigation dubbed Project E-Prominent, which was looking into alleged illicit growing of cannabis for export.
Although recreational cannabis was legal in Canada by the time of the raids, export remains illegal.
Despite the discovery of large amounts of cannabis and firearms, no charges have yet been laid more than a year after the first searches.
This led to the Director of Public Prosecutions to have to apply for an extension of the court order allowing the province to retain possession of items seized during the investigation.
The July 17 ruling by Justice James Williams in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, does not list exactly what property remains in the government’s hands.
In 2019, FSOC announced they had seized guns, five vehicles, and what police described only as a “large amount” of Canadian cash.
It notes that three of the five people whose property was held opposed the extension of the detention order. All three lived at the South Langley farm.
Williams noted in his judgment that the Crown prosecutors have recently received a report from investigators – it includes 8,150 documents and 2,665 multimedia files, among other items.
“In short, the material provided to the Crown is voluminous,” wrote Williams.
A Crown lawyer told the court by affidavit that it would likely be three months to process all the material and decide if charges should be laid. COVID-19 is complicating the process, as many lawyers are working from home.
Williams ruled that in light of the complexity of the investigation, the authorities could extend their detention of the seized items.